Hopefully y’all have seen that I’ve been streaming The Surge recently as part of my PS4 playlist, which I’m aiming to stream 3 times a week. Now in my pre-review (?!) I marked it at a 7.5 because I hadn’t played a lot of it and what I had experienced was quite slow and unbalanced, so have I changed my mind now that I’ve completed robot dark souls?
It’s worth mentioning as well that Luke reviewed The Surge at an 8.5 just over 3 years ago.
There are some things I really like about this game:
Dark Souls Mechanics – There are the really obvious direct comparisons to Souls (here I go again) such as stamina management, intense difficulty, the threat of XP loss and the dire need for patience when playing. All of these elements in any game, in my opinion, makes it challenging yet rewarding. Gone are the days of there being no management of your stamina and you being able to fight non stop, you need to be aware of what you’re doing and how you’re fighting. However except for these few core gaming mechanics The Surge really carves it’s own name out in the Soulsbourne rock.
Gear Upgrades – I really enjoyed the inclusion of the gear upgrades, the fact that you get the different parts by slicing enemy’s limbs off, and essentially attaching them to your own exo-suit. As a whole it has a fairly strong combat system, although really tipped towards the slower side of things, you are forced to play well to survive. Once you’ve created the armour you then need to target specific body parts to upgrade that part on your own, adding a deeper level and challenge to the combat.
Drones – I really enjoyed the inclusion of drones to really drive home the sell of the mechanical robot world, and it’s just quite nice to have a little companion. The fact that you could swap between different attachments to best suit your play style is awesome, although come the end the shield is probably all you’re going to use.
Managing your whole system including injectables – Carrying on from managing armour parts by slicing off specific body parts is the ability to manage your suit’s whole system. Every time you return to a medi station (which is quite a lot when you’re dying all the time) you can choose to swap and change what you’re equipped with, which is all controlled by a core power. You can choose to have higher health, more stamina, more health kits or even different abilities to benefit you in battle. You are limited on how many you can attach but can change it on the fly. You can increase your capacity for core power with scrap, but this is also needed to upgrade your armour – so be careful what you spend it on and don’t lose too much!
However there are some things that I didn’t enjoy –
Unbalanced enemies and bosses – Very often the game will throw a new enemy or boss at you and no matter how good you are or how well you’ve programmed your suit they will have 1 it that’s impossible to dodge and will decimate you, or series of attacks that you can’t get out of. I know I sounds Butthurt little boy who can’t play his games properly but this didn’t leave me with the same feeling of “that death was my fault” as other Souls games have. The Surge has some extremely cheap deaths, especially in boss fights, which will leave you feeling unbelievably frustrated.
Unnecessary amount of choice on weapons – Everyone loves weapon choice in game, obviously, but I’m going to say you’re only going to end up using 2 or 3 weapons in this whole thing. Once you get the chainsaw blade (used in nearly every promotional picture) you don’t get any weapon better until the very end. All the other weapons are either a lot weaker or slower, or both. What’s more frustrating is there is no way of breaking the weapons down you don’t want. So you’ll end up with 20 or so weapons in your inventory, 18 of which you won’t even look at!
Confused map, impossible without guide – Yes I know part of the fun of these games is no map marker, and forced exploration, but more than a handful of times I had to look at a guide because I was running around in circles like a lost child. The game really doesn’t give enough direction on where to go, or have a straight enough path. Add in this constant bombardment of enemies getting in your way and you just end up not wanting to explore! However to juxtapose this opinion….
Enemies don’t give a shit about you sometimes – I think this may be on purpose as, quite often, the checkpoint/medbay is quite far from a boss arena. The idea is you do a straight run and keep trying the boss, when doing this you need to go past a fair few enemies right! Well so, so often it was super easy to just fly through and have them pay no attention. I just felt this was a bit odd! I’m impossible to please.
I’ve got 4 good points and 4 bad here, does that leave me with a balanced score? Well….not really. The Surge is a fun game for sure and has some great ideas and mechanics but there are some frustrations that are just hard to ignore and it really takes some grit to get through it. I’ve heard this is the worst of the Soulsbourne bunch and I don’t think that’s wrong. It gets a: